CCP And The Wrath Of The Playerbase


The past few weeks have seen a familiar contribution to the RPS inbox: various complaints from Eve players about the way CCP is handing their game. We’ve had mails from a number of different pilots, including famed veterans of Eve’s many wars, and also from members of the Council Of Stellar Management, the player-body that CCP set up to act as an ombudsman to their handling of the game world. What are they so upset about? And what can CCP do to address it?

Read on for an explanation, and also some comments from CCP’s Senior Producer for EVE Online, Arnar Hrafn Gylfason.

While Eve’s players, like any other community, has always had its grumbles and gripes with the developers, the latest unhappiness seems to largely stem from a meeting of the Council Of Stellar Management (CSM) earlier this year (giant PDF of the minutes of that meeting can be found here). This body was set up after controversies regarding developer influence within the game world, with a view to give players a democratically-elected stake in influencing and advising the development process. It was supposed to be a watchdog for developer versus player interests. In this most recent meeting the CSM members once again raised issues they saw as fundamental to the playerbase, particularly the ever-present issue of lag on the server cluster. The response from CCP seemed to be that the issues raised – specifically with regard to lag and lag-related issues – would be dealt with only after the development teams had finished working on Incarna, the expansion that will allow characters to walk about in stations, and Dust 514, the cross-platform action game which is to be integrated with the Eve universe. So not before 2011, and possibly later than that. Things were to get worse when, in this devblog, it was revealed that a minority of the company’s development resources appeared to be dedicated to the core game (something addressed in our interview below).

Players responded with some incredulity to all this. Why had CCP set up the CSM if not for feedback from the community? If the feedback was to be ignored in favour of CCP’s pre-determined development directives, why did it exist at all? And why were the majority of developers working on things not directly related to the Eve experience? The latter issue is understandable, of course, because CCP have to look to the future, and can’t rest on their laurels. Any development company not working on future projects is setting itself up for failure. But the annoyance of the players was also understandable, because their investment in time and money is, in many cases, very serious indeed. If these long-term players have a problem, then the game has a problem. Future features are all very well, but the CSM, and the players it represents, want their day-to-day experience to be improved. While they are paying subscribers, you can see why they might be so concerned with those kinds of issues.

Taking a step back from this, it’s possible to argue that the negative reactions of the community toward the results of the recent CSM meeting were, perhaps, predictable, even inevitable. CCP had felt they were acting in the interests of the community in setting up the CSM, but they are a privately owned company with its own goals and agendas, creating a player-ombudsman was only going to formalise player entitlement. There was always going to be a point at which one side could not deal with the needs of the other. If the CSM was to feel it was being ignored – and could say so, as it did, in the very public platform of the game forums – then rage was the only possible result.

So could CCP have handled this differently? Here are the responses to some questions I put to “CCP Zulu”, Arnar Hrafn Gylfason, Senior Producer for EVE Online, who argues that CCP’s position has been misjudged, and explains that the “unprecedented” nature of the CSM was always going to be a complex issue for his company.

RPS: How do you respond to the suggestion that CCP is failing is obligation to the CSM by not acting on its suggestions? Are you really “ignoring” it?

Gylfason: We’re absolutely not ignoring the CSM. We’re actually bringing how we handle their requests and comments closer to the development process and formalizing it more. We’re addressing a number of the CSM raised issues and issues from the crowdsourced voting thread in our current development cycle and players should see the results of that on our public test server in a few weeks.

RPS: Have there been mistakes in handling the CSM generally?

Gylfason: Not as such, the CSM doesn’t require any “handling”. The CSM was established in its current form in June 2008, building and improving on a collaboration venue we started with players as early as 2003 and since then we’ve been working with the delegates to fine tune how the process should work. Around the same time we changed development processes for EVE (and actually all of CCP) moving towards enterprise scrum. Figuring out how that process and the CSM worked best together required a lot of work and thought. So far we’ve found quite a few ways it doesn’t. That is always the risk you face by doing something unprecedented, you’ll have to find the right answers all on your own. That can take a lot of time but most of all it takes cooperation. Through that cooperation we now believe we’ve found a way that works and we hope we’ll be able to show that in the coming months through actions rather than words.

RPS: Why can’t you commit any resources to the “core issues” raised for eighteen months?

Gylfason: This misunderstanding of 18 months comes up a lot and I’d like to correct it. We have for the past few years been very focused on adding new features to EVE Online. We added Factional Warfare, Wormhole exploration, Loyalty Points stores, Planetary Interaction and tech 3 ships to name a few. During this era of expanding the gameplay we shifted our focus somewhat away from iterating and refactoring on older game systems and features. What we’ve been doing for the past few months is move that focus back. Over the next months we will be increasing our focus on iteration up to the point where, 18 months or so from now, we are only doing work on existing gameplay.–both in terms of polish and general refactoring for scalability purposes. The EVE Development team counts around 140 people (closer to 200 when you count in developers contributing to deliver Incarna and our core technology group) now and the choice between iteration and new feature development isn’t a binary one, it’s more of a gradient scale and we’ve already started moving the needle on that towards iteration.

RPS: It seems that players are upset that only a fraction of the development team is working directly on Eve, with Dust and Incarna taking up the rest. But is it fair for them to be upset? Is CCP’s greatest obligation to run Eve, or to be a creative games company?

Gylfason: EVE is a game, a universe actually, of a scale and scope and our vision or it so vast that it will take decades to fully realize and at the end of that our players will have inspired us to do even more There will always be more we want to add or change to bring it closer to being a complete sci-fi simulation experience.

As I stated in my original blog though most of the resources working on Incarna are actually on loan from other projects or belong to our core technology group. The resource impact to the EVE team is minimal in the creation of the core technology needed for Incarna. We have one development team working on the connection between EVE and Dust which also ties into and contributes to all of EVE, planetary interaction in particular. So I would actually turn that sentence around and say that there’s only a fraction of the EVE development team that’s not working directly on EVE and taking into account that Dust connects to the EVE universe then none at all actually.

From this site

94 Comments

  1. Jez says:

    Beautiful politician spin. EVE is a lagfest, and CCP should be embarassed at what it’s become.

  2. Dwergi says:

    If anyone wants to be introduced to EVE themselves, don’t forget that there is an EVE corporation for Rock Paper Shotgun readers. Our only require that you’ve done the in-game tutorials. If you’re interested, come talk to us in the RPS Community channel in-game and we’ll see if we can help you get started.

  3. Kast says:

    An excellent bit of investigation, report and analysis. Thanks Jim.

    EVE is perhaps my favourite game I’ve never played (well, not for more than a few days) thanks to the many great stories that keep coming out about political intrigue, vast interstellar wars and violent corporate take-overs. Someone should compile them and publish a book, I’d definitely get that.

  4. Tei says:

    I think a govern can use democracy, because even if things go wrong, and everything burns, everything will be built again, since people live there. A country can’t stop to exist, because his voters are idiots.
    But a company can stop existing, and for a game company the odds are against, about 90 stop existing / 10 continue (maybe a bit better for a company with a successful mmo, but these are rare).
    So, IMHO, the CSM is a bad idea.

    As a business decisions, with limited resources, It make sense to put all the people on these expansions. Maybe as resulted a bad idea [unknom factor at the time: urgent changes are required], but back then was the right thing to do. Maybe CCP should promise less, delivered more, and shut up about the things that will make the people angry.

  5. Baboonanza says:

    ‘What are they so upset about? And what can CCP do to address it?’

    And why the hell are they complaining to you?

  6. Wurzel says:

    “So I would actually turn that sentence around and say that there’s only a fraction of the EVE development team that’s not working directly on EVE and taking into account that Dust connects to the EVE universe then none at all actually.”

    Not actually answering the main issue, i.e. that a lot of their development isn’t on EVE; this instead says that almot all their EVE developers are working on EVE, which was almost to be expected. I do wonder though how much they’ve comitted to the World of Darkness MMO, or whether they’ve farmed coders out to White Wolf to deal with that?

  7. CMaster says:

    It was put to me by an EvE player that one of the more recent updates made big fleet battles lag like hell, then bring down the (zone) server, to the point that the big conflicts between alliances don’t really work any more. As this 0.0 combat is one of EvE’s big selling points, gets them mentioned in places like the BBC and was the focus of the recent butterfly effect trailer, as well as an occupation for a substantial portion (though not the majority) of the player base, you’d think this was important. However, CCP seem to have indicated that it isn’t a priority. Lots of players then respond “well what the hell are we paying for then”.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      I’ve heard the same recently, that lag in Eve is worse now than at any point people can remember. To repeat my whining from a previous thread, I think this interview makes things sound a little too “business as usual” — the issue is that CCP are delivering a much less stable and playable experience than other MMOs, making a game rich in features that don’t actually work.

  8. Turin Turambar says:

    Eve Online is a multiplayer game. Lag is the first issue to resolve in a multiplayer game. The number of developed features and expansions is senseless if the game itself (you know, the thing where you can try said features) is fucking laggy.

  9. cliffski says:

    The trouble with just simply asking existing players what they want, is the answer is usually “Everything”, and the timescale offered is “now”. That just doesn’t work.
    No matter what decision you make, you will anger some people. The ones who are ahppy will be quiter than the ones who are unhappy, so it always looks like you got the decision wrong.
    The other factor is that some stuff is easier than other stuff.

    My own example (GSB), is where I am doing a campaign game (much requested) and a new race of ships. There are GSB players who want new weapons types, who think I’m wasting my time on crap they don’t want. The reason for new ships is that I can get someone else to do it, and thus it is way easier than adding new weapons.

    I don’t play eve any more, so can’t comment on it’s state, but I have enormous sympathy for the poor sods who have players yelling at them from both sides, plus no doubt finance and marketing guys yelling at them from yet another direction.
    These decisions are not easy.

    • Manley Pointer says:

      Isn’t the difference that your customer base is demanding too many new things, whereas the Eve fanbase wants the core gameplay to return to working order?

      The Eve forums are full of incredible whiners and trolls, but this isn’t a case of people saying “how dare you create a great new Gallente ship when I am specced for Amarr, etc.” I think the message is more like “why don’t you quit working on shiny new things for the future and fix the lag that is ruining the game at this moment.”

    • Duality says:

      I think Manley Pointer got it in one. The main complaint is that the core game is being neglected in favour of new shiny features that make the shareholders happy. The players are tired of half finished new features, and now just want the developers to concentrate on fixing what is already there.

    • Azhrarn says:

      Duality, please remember that there are no CCP-shareholders as such, CCP is privately held and not public. But you are correct in stating that they said that shiny new stuff attracted more new players than fixed older stuff.

  10. Flappybat says:

    With how complex Eve is I think even the best of developers would struggle with the community and technical issues.

  11. teo says:

    CCP is in full damage control mode right now so it’s hard to take what they say at face value. They ignored the massive, massive complaint threads until people got really pissed off and started pinging every gaming site they had in their browser history.

  12. Wildeheart says:

    Amen to that!

  13. Jeffrey says:

    Eh. The lag is a big issue, aside from that it’s mostly people complaining just for the sake of complaining. It’s the first time in the history of mankind where Joe Nobody can be heard via internet forums, and the best way to be heard ( or at least noticed ) is to be a whiny dick.

    Most people I interact with daily are perfectly content with the game currently ( again, aside from the lag ). But you don’t talk to those, you just see the douchebags that think CCP denying a moronic request from the CSM for a UI overhaul is a betrayal of the playerbase. That their gamescom booth was “an insult”, or any other asinine complaints people will blow way the hell out of proportion just to have a reason to get some attention on a public board.

    CCPs only mistake is making the CSM elections democratic, when anyone who spent more than four seconds on the EVE Online forum can tell you the voters are fucking idiots.

    • cjlr says:

      And in the game!

    • cjlr says:

      Whoops, forgot the quote that made that:
      “CCPs only mistake is making the CSM elections democratic, when anyone who spent more than four seconds on the EVE Online forum can tell you the voters are fucking idiots.”

  14. Sobric says:

    Although I’m sure EVE player’s complaints are valid, I still think it is seriously impressive that CCP is willing to even bother to set up this sort of community relationships programme. Didn’t they fly players out to Iceland to meet the developers and see what’s going on in development?

    Also: main complaint in an online game is lag. Oh, internet gaming, never change.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Actually, they flew the CSM to iceland to tell them that they could not commit and/or respond to any of the issues they presented.

    • Sobric says:

      Ouch.

  15. dave says:

    Sigh, what a load of arse. “we are working on eve becasue dust and incarna are part of eve”.

    Parts of Eve people playing an INTERNET SPACESHIP GAME dont really care about. Walking in stations and a first person shooter are all very interesting but i want to play internet spaceships.

    We dont want new features at the expense of incarna and dust, we dont want CCP to stop developing things for their game. We want bugs that are YEARS OLD fixed. Jesus christ how hard is it to understand?!?! How can they be so obstinate when their customers just want the fucking product fixed!?!

    The most galling part is that they virtually had it! There was a brief golden age where you could get 1000 man battles with a minimum amount of fuss and lag or at least managable amounts.

    “We added Factional Warfare (lag fast with rubbish implementation. hasnt been looked at since it was released), Wormhole exploration (aye awesome implementation 10/10), Loyalty Points stores (again pretty cool), Planetary Interaction (he actually had the balls to mention this piece of shit in an interview!?! farmville in space) and tech 3 ships (good so far, wheres the 5th subsystem, where are the T3 frigs/BC’s/BS’s etc etc) to name a few.”

    ANGRY!!!!1!!1!!!!!111!!1ELEVENTY111!!!!1!1

    Also come and join RPSH and win Eve. “RPS community” in game chat. PM me on the forums for a buddy key for a super length trial.

    • dave says:

      Also the CSM makes me want to cry. Forum lurking attention whores get forum trolls to vote for them and these idiots are meant to represent us?

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Going to disagree with you on the CSM there. Of all the people involved in this, Mynxee, Vuk, Trebor & Co were the most professional. After Ankhmas they really upped the ante on transparency and communication.

    • dave says:

      OK im prepared to admit i know nothing about the CSM and randomly flinging insults at people who might not deserve it. That said they all eat cats and hate Christmass.

    • President Weasel says:

      Dave is correct: Faction War is nearly good but horrendously broken – they did actually look at it, but their attempted fix (faction war missions) didn’t do anything to fix the core problems (and was broken when introduced, and only ever got half fixed) They’re currently ignoring it again.

      Wormholes were the last thing they introduced that worked properly. Planetary Interaction is a half-assed, annoying-to-use, placeholder, which seems to exist to give Dust 321 some kind of hook into the game (and will more than likely never be properly fixed).

  16. Batolemaeus says:

    Uhm, my main gripe with CCP wasn’t that there weren’t too many devs working on it anymore. They will have to broaden their money streams, no complaints there.
    However, “we shifted our focus somewhat away from iterating and refactoring on older game systems and features” is an understatement of epic proportions. Of the features mentioned, several are complete trainwrecks. PI was a rushed, poorly thought out mechanic with several game breaking exploits still unfixed and/or not properly resolved. FW has its own fair share of bugs and imbalance. The one feature that is doing okay-ish is wormhole exploration, but it sorely needs a facelift too. And don’t get me started on the Sov system, which like PI was rushed and goes against anything players wanted to see. It’s so bad that all of my friends in various alliances wanted the old system back. Not to mention that the sov system, above all, encourages and enforces bringing game breaking numbers of players just to achieve anything. The lag problem isn’t primarily a technical problem, it’s a failure on the game design front first and foremost.

    There is a 2697 post thread on the official forum about precisely this problem. There’s a huge pile of unfinished work that is being ignored. The recent barrage of devblogs and nathan-posts don’t seem to indicate any change on that front either.

  17. Brumisator says:

    Interstellar politics…IRL…My brain just exploded.

  18. Bowlby says:

    I thought they were some good answers, but arguably I wouldn’t know since I don’t play EVE.

    The CSM doesn’t sound too bad an idea as long as players realise it’s an advisory board which holds no authority over the developers.

  19. Alikchi says:

    The Mittani’s second-most recent article – link to tentonhammer.com – does a pretty good job of presenting the playerbase’s complaints and the reasoning behind them.

    • Arathain says:

      @Alikchi, on The Mittani’s blog post: “…a thread posted by Dierdra Vaal of the CSM (and leader of EVE University, a highly respected new player organization) accelerated into a veritable threadnaught…”

      I hereby propose all runaway forum flame threads are referred to as threadnoughts (if they aren’t already and I just missed it).

    • Batolemaeus says:

      A threadnought is a barrage of threads and/or a lot of posts on the same topic. I think the term is endemic to the Eve community however.

    • mandrill says:

      The term threadnaught is a play on the name of the heavy hitting capital ship class in the game. So yes I believe it is an EVEism.

  20. Ezhar says:

    As someone who has had some fringe experience in the MMO industry I can say it’s quite normal to put most developers on expansion work and only have a small “live” team for the content currently available to players.

    One thing players often don’t understand is that there is no such thing as a generic developer that you can just stick on a problem and make it all better. Even if there were such a thing as a generic online developer (let’s call them god for short) you still couldn’t just stick 12 gods on your lag problem instead of two and fix it in 4 weeks instead of 6 months. They would just step on each others toes and waste a lot of time all doing the same thing, slowing each other down.

    But remember, there is no god. Making an MMO takes people of all kinds of skill sets, most of which generically referred to as “developer”. Game designers, graphics designers (they come in various flavours themselves), character animators, programmers (lots of flavours here too), system administrators, to name just a few. To fix something like EVE’s lag issues (I don’t know any specifics, but I assume they’re still centered around having too many players connected to the same “solar system” node simultaneously) it’d probably be a coder or two and a good sysadmin, working to further optimize or redesign some things that have already been optimized quite a bit.

    Most of the other developers at the company couldn’t help one bit with that process and are better off making new content for the next expansion. The ones that can chime in with knowledge probably will do so anyways, despite being mainly assigned to another team.

    I would expect CCP to explain this sort of thing when inviting players to have a say in their game. And maybe remember some of tweety’s community management lessons.

    • Arathain says:

      @ Ezhar: Yeah, this reminds me of some of the City of Heroes devs trying to explain pretty much the same concept. A little while ago CoH gave all players a new power- Walk, so they could walk about rather than having to run all the time. Many players, particularly roleplayers, had been asking for this for years, but the implementation was less trivial than it would intuitively have seemed, and so it took a while to make it up the priorities list for the animation team.

      When it was released lots of players who couldn’t care less about whether or not could they could walk posted some more or less angry comment along the lines of “how can you be spending developer time on this useless thing when there is Bug X/Balance Issue Y still to fix?”. The response of the lead animator was something like “So what would you like me to animate that will fix Bug X?”

      It’s very likely that CCP’s server/netcode specialists would love an easy fix to the lag problems, and are working on it. That’s their job. If it hasn’t been fixed yet, it suggests it doesn’t have an easy fix. Getting artists and coders with other specialties to work on it is unlikely to help. This strikes me as far more of a PR disaster than anything wrong with CCP themselves.

    • Nallen says:

      @Ezhar: Top posting :)

  21. Morte says:

    I played eve for the first 4 years or so. Best game I’ve really ever played I think, however, I found I was pretty sensitive to CCP’s growing arrogance and it was largely instrumental in me bailing in the end. I never liked the CSM, it was fairly obvious that it was a cynical attempt to buy off a growing militancy in the player base after some pretty embarrassing cock ups.
    Lag has been an issue since day0, they have to their credit made massive noises about throwing money at this problem in the past, but it has never really resulted in nailing the problem for good. It would appear that because of this, or because of simply running out of ideas, that they’re just forging ahead regardless with content development.

    • kororas says:

      One cant help but think that this constant forging of new content is adding to the problem, which to my mind it no doubt is.

      Im just glad i stopped playing a while ago now, when i still rember lag always being a thorn in the side, i’d hate to think what its like now.

      CCP is no longer the small company it once was and with that they gotta keep pioneering if only for the shareholders and at the expense of the players/playability.

    • arqueturus says:

      Once again. There are no shareholders as such.

  22. Wolfman says:

    I don’t know why people complain about the lag, the only time I’ve experience serious lag was when I took part in a battle involving 1600 players. And if you expect that to run smoothly and lag free then I suggest you go play another game.

    You sometimes get a 10 second wait jumping between systems but that is hardly enough to complain about because as soon as you finish the jump its all nice and fast again.

    • Leelad says:

      1600!!

      Even Blizzards bandwidth and clusters can’t handle that! 100v100 wintergrasps is what we’re left with.

      Additional instances cannot be launched and all that. Everything has it’s limits I guess.

      Popularity = Lag.

    • President Weasel says:

      Guess again, Wolfman.

      CCP’s own publicity for the game makes a big point of massive battles for sovereignty, featuring hundreds of players a side. The experience of the playerbase is that these battles are currently nigh impossible due to lag: the attackers, if they jump in in numbers, run a high chance of being slaughtered in droves while they sit waiting for local to load.
      Bored mothership and titan pilots, instead of forming massive fleets and taking space, sit around bored until they can find a roving skirmish gang to hot drop on, or maybe find a handful of carriers to massively overkill their 8 motherships onto.

      The perception has been there for years that CCP prefer to release half-finished “shiny” then move on to the next “shiny” without ever properly fixing the previous “shiny”.
      This perception was strongly reinforced when a CCP member of staff said “the data does not seem to support that polished quality sells better than new features.” (link to eveonline.com)

      They’re attempting to put a sticking plaster over this gaping PR wound, but the fact is that neither Walking in Stations (Second Life with Spaceships?) or Dust 1999 (a console shooter tangentially related to the core game) are particularly required by the player base.

      To sum up:
      CCP advertise a game with massive fleet battles. A large section of the playerbase wants massive fleet battles. Mssive fleet battles used to be possible in the olden days. Now they are not.
      CCP, instead of devoting development resources to backfilling, fixing, and polishing the many holes and flaws in their game, and instead of putting a large development team onto the problem that is spoiling the “end game” for many players, are spending our subscription money on:
      Stuff we don’t want (that likely won’t work properly and never quite be fixed);
      A console game with some vague association with EVE;
      Development of the World of Darkness MMO they are working on.

  23. Freud says:

    You would think that when the core game breaks (lag and server crashes) the company would shift to Defcon 1. Apparently not.

  24. mpk says:

    EVE players are a bunch of whiny bitches at the best of times, but I think the passion behind the whining comes from the face that there’s nothing else in gaming that can match the adrenalin rush of EVE PvP.

    No, not even Battleraper.

    • President Weasel says:

      A lot of us truly love EVE, but the differences between the idealised game we love, the game that was nearly there for a glorious few months a couple of years ago, and the actual game as it exists now is heartbreaking – like seeing your childhood sweetheart become a drug addicted prostitute, only with imaginary internet spaceship pixels.

    • mpk says:

      Personally I think you’re over-egging the pudding there. The game I’ve been playing has been broken since, oooh 2007? That said, I’m assuming you’re talking about large-scale fleet warfare, the much mythologised 1000-man battles. They don’t interest me. I’m far more interested in small-scale gang PvP which has been in short supply for a long time now.

      Doesn’t stop me playing, has started me whining.

    • President Weasel says:

      Maybe I like eggy pudding, Jamie, did you think about that?
      Basides, just because she’s been a prossie for ages doesn’t mean I can’t look back fondly to the innocent days of our youth :)

  25. Malibu Stacey says:

    Kind of makes me glad I let my accounts lapse a couple of years ago.

    Then again my Dwarf Fortress addiction is back to full strength with v0.31.12 so I doubt I’d have time for another addiction along with TF2.

  26. Meldgaard says:

    EVE is a game, a universe actually, of a scale and scope and our vision or it so vast that it will take decades to fully realize and at the end of that our players will have inspired us to do even more There will always be more we want to add or change to bring it closer to being a complete sci-fi simulation experience.

    I think this is what the problem boils down too: What do we mean when we are saying EVE.
    Must players are talking about internet space ships and CCP are talking about “a complete sci-fi simulation experience”
    So when CCP are saying: “We are working on making EVE better” they are talking about all of the franchise.
    But when the players are saying “fix EVE” they are talking about Internet space ships.

    • mpk says:

      Yeah, we want EVE fixed before the simulation is expanded. Not too much too ask, shirley?

  27. Selendor says:

    Developing shiny new features are all well and good, but I resubbed recently after 4 years away in order to get properly into Eve. I read every guide I could find, trawled the forums, grinded the missions for a while and got ready to find a corp and move to the next level…

    …but the more I read about the end game experience of alliance warfare (other than random skirmish fun of 10 v 10) the more I came to realise that spending 6 to 12 months of my gaming time was going to result in an end-game that didn’t sound fun at all.

    You can read the large Alliances trying to have fun and getting into the spirit but at the end of the day they eventually collide in a mess of lag and sync outs – seriously people are spending 8 hours getting ready for a fight and not even getting a shot off because the lag killed them entering a system.

    Yes its not the endgame for everyone, and yes if it was easy to fix they would have done it already, but to play down this major issue is the wrong move by CCP and has resulted in players like me not continuing with their subscriptions. As was posted earlier, I think that the solution could be in changing the game mechanics to encourage smaller skirmishes, but thats not really what Eve’s about is it.

  28. pupsikaso says:

    I’ve always been shocked by the fact that it seems the majority of players /WANT/ to have 500vs500 fleet fights. How is something like that fun at all? Nevermind the lag, let’s pretend that CCP fixed it and it’s absolutely lag free. What fun is there in just shooting primary after primary and then getting popped yourself in one hit?

    Rather than fixing lag that is caused by an unwanted game experience (blob fest), they should do some design choices that would sway people away from large fleets and back to how it was before when small gang skirmishes ruled null sec. And that would indirectly fix lag, too.

    I freaking hate fleet fights.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Having 100 vs.100 work again would be a good start, tbh.

    • mpk says:

      Finding an opponent who’s happy to engage at 10v10 would do me. Too many loss-averse FCs out there.

  29. Andrew Farrell says:

    Jesus, I am more impressed than ever with WoW’s forums after this..

  30. paritybit says:

    To say that CCP has dismissed it as a non-priority is entirely disingenuous. What the players mean to say is that CCP has not fixed it fast enough for them; and what this means is that CCP has not fixed it yet. If you follow the CCP developer blogs at all, you will see almost a blog a day for the past week and a half and most of them are talking about how they are trying to fix the lag. If you think that means it’s not a priority, then you’re just not paying attention.

    Detractors will say that they’ve only just started focusing on lag or that they’re just putting up a public relations screen. But, you can read back to previous comments and blogs from the developers and see that many of the things they are talking about now have been in the works for quite some time. Lag is a difficult problem. Are they solving it fast enough for me? No, but my expectations (as well as the expectations of all the players) are quite unrealistic.

    • Lacero says:

      If we were looking closely we might look at the frequency and relevance of blogs before the last three weeks, and think about why there are suddenly a lot more all about lag.

    • LionsPhil says:

      So what you’re saying, Lacero, is that if, after the playerbase rants at CCP to fix the lag, CCP starts fixing the lag, that’s still being unresponsive to the playerbase and just doing PR spin?

  31. Dobleclick says:

    After reading the article and the comments so far, and out of my nearly full EVE-ignorance (just played a few days back in Beta and another couple of days about 2 years ago), this is what I think is going on:

    CCP made a commercial assessment, and decided they would have a bigger player base (therefore cash) adding new features, relevant to newbies, low-level players, and mid-range players. Fixing end-game stuff is relevant only to end-game players, and that segment might not be that huge. Apart from being a minor segment, it’s the hardest to satisfy in the first place, so why bother?

    The above would only be true if end-gamers are really a relative small portion (less than 20%??) of the total player base.

    So my question to you guys is: How do you think that proportion actually looks like? Is EVE being played mostly by hardcore EVE-addicts, or is its playerbase in continual change where the biggest part have not yet even reached end-game?

    • Batolemaeus says:

      Since Eve doesn’t have an endgame, you’re entirely wrong.
      Eve has features. A good numbers of these are broken and need attention. Case in point: Planetary Interaction is probably the worst piece of game design I’ve seen in years and has been heavily advertised to be very accessible for new players. It is bug ridden, there are unfixed exploits and the gameplay is the polar opposite of fun.
      Another example: Factional Warfare was heavily advertised to be perfect for new players to get into pvp. Except it has effectively been abandoned and has lots of unfixed issues that will probably stay unfixed for years to come.

    • Gunrun says:

      There is no “endgame” in eve. The corp I am in is currently holding a newbie drive. Within 3 hours of CREATING THEIR ACCOUNT the newbies will be in a ship perfectly capable of playing an important role in giant fleet battles. A couple of days ago we had people who have been playing eve for less than a day tackling players (stopping their ships from warping off, and slowing them down so they’re easier to hit) whos accounts are 7 years old.

  32. geldonyetich says:

    I’ve always considered EVE Online to be a bit of a snowjob, really.

    Behold, our giant free floating space empire!
    Well, technically it’s instanced into a giant number of tiny sectors…
    … and technically this giant free floating space empire doesn’t have much real purpose other than for the players to explode eachother’s ships…
    …which technically they’re afraid to even take out of their hangars because of the massive grinding needed to get those ships…
    …and maybe the game is a bit of a spectacle because of the sheer tangible value of player work that goes down the drain when those ships/stations are lost/stolen…
    … and maybe the gameplay itself is so shallow that you can play several ships at once via multiboxing without that much difficulty…
    … but, damn it, EVE Online is an MMORPG other than World of Warcraft that is successful, so shut the hell up.

  33. Santiago says:

    Gamers are slightly more educated on the software development process than the average person, in the sense that they know there are some actual guys writing stuff on fancy IDEs that make up the games they play, instead of believing the games come directly from the arse of some 16 yr old autistic and disabled midget symbiotically linked to a powerful PC.

    Big commercial software developers, whose public is trained IT Professionals, struggle hard to find a way to manage the user requests vs. business reality problem. In the IT industry, getting developers to satisfy business and user requirements within budget is the number one issue and one that has created a multi-billion dollar sub-industry around methodologies and best practices, such as Rational, ITIL and the like. For the record, they still suck big time. And we´re talking Pros.

    What CCP is doing is as close as possible as opening up to the public the development process of the consumer product of your choice, be it cars, TVs, Amusement Parks, or your local government. It is doomed to be an extremely painful process which will depend on the superhuman ability of CCP to listen and communicate smartly, and the willingness of the users to be Educated in the reality of the thing.

    I will pray every night for this brave fools to live long enough to convince God they deserve a place in heaven when they die horribly in public fires.

  34. Epic Wizard says:

    All of you who are going by what you’ve heard or who simply haven’t bothered to actually read the Eve forums or the dev blogs that have been put out recently may want to go check those out.

    For the people who are going to continue to be cynical b*****ds who will never take anything CCP says or does as anything other than a PR stunt or a half sincere gesture. Kindly go stick your head in a warp core and shut up =D

  35. Anthony says:

    Not a player anymore, but from what I’ve gathered the problem isn’t just the usual Jita-style lagfest, it’s that zerosec warfare is practically impossible at this point. It’s stagnating the much-vaunted ‘player-run economy’ and giving a free hand to carebears who stick to highsec PVE.

    If I was still paying the monthly fee and involved in zerosec, I’d be pissed off too. They’ve had plenty of time to resolve these issues, yet it appears each subsequent major update makes the game even less playable than it was previously. From someone who 12 months ago got caught in an unexpected server crash while flying a stupidly expensive ship in lowsec, I can tell you they’re not selling me on the concept of investing more time in this thing.

  36. Jason says:

    While I definitely agree that this was a masterful piece of spin that completely sidestepped the intent of the questions posed, EVE is really only horribly laggy in a few areas and situations. Granted, that can be highly detrimental to certain activities, but there’s plenty of stuff to do where there’s little or no lag.

    As to the interview, I don’t think that the players care where the resources that CCP is putting towards Dust and Incarna came from. They see it more as ‘If CCP can pull resources to work on Dust/Incarna, why can’t they put them towards things we give a crap about?’. And from that aspect, I agree wholeheartedly. I play EVE from time to time when I get the itch, but the way CCP has been handling their public face lately really quashes that feeling. Between the to-do over a CSM member’s blog posting, to the numerous issues raised which have been pushed back a great deal, to interviews like this one.

    EVE is a fantastic game, and one I continue to tout as the best MMO currently on the market. But I also think that it’s definitely suffering right now from the way it’s handling itself and interfacing with the community.

  37. HRose says:

    Any development company not working on future projects is setting itself up for failure.

    Congratulations, the opposite is true.

    CCP has been successful since 2003 because they worked on Eve only. Things are starting to look grim now BECAUSE of tangential projects.

    Mythic was incredibly successful as long it focused on DAoC. It started to collapse as it derailed its resources on Imperator and then got ultimately killed by EA and Warhammer.

    Recipe for failure is about forgetting why you are in the market.

    • Bob Bobson says:

      Aye, any developer who doesn’t run a subscription model needs to look to future projects or do bust. But Eve takes in a lot of money week in week out from existing players. So for a company like CCP keeping existing projects profitable will pay the bills. Future projects will lead to growth, and growth is good, but the fastest way for CCP to go bust from here is for Eve to be abandoned by the big alliances.

  38. FRIENDLYUNIT says:

    That guy is hilarious. Did he mean for all his comments to look like damage control spin?

    I’m curious if it was a phone/voice interview because it probably sounds fine if you just say it (quickly) but when it’s all static in text it’s a bit funny.

  39. EBass says:

    Internet angry can usually be taken with a pinch of salt butt………..

    When nearly an entire community of an established online game is up in arms about something its generally for good reason. I remember the same happening to CoH and it just kills you when the developers seem to remember that they have one of the most amazing games ever on their hands but they have completely forgotten the REASONS that made it incredible and seem to be doing their best to destroy it with superfluous nonsense.

  40. Steve says:

    They tried that but i don’t think they yelled it loudly enough.

    People didnt care and still complained.

    Ive actually seen the odd thread where people complain that development resources are wasted on the web site as because clearly the web dev’s should be working on the cluster node balancing or something.

    • Steve says:

      Damnit… was supposed to be a response to Ezhar.

    • President Weasel says:

      “We only have 3 devs with the skils to work on the lag issue and they are already fixing it. Are you asking us to retask some of the 40 animators working on human avatar animations (for an internet space ship game) to fixing the lag, or addressing some of the litter of half-finished shiny the game is strewn with? I doubt they’d be very good at that (you stupid player base, with your laughable ideas…)”

      No, CCP Strawman, we’re not. We’re saying that we are angry that you have hired a legion of animators instead of hiring guys with the skills to fix the things that are broken.
      Are employment practices in Iceland such that the company is forced to hire the first 50 programmers that turn up, and only then ask them what their skills are: “oh noes! We have hired 50 coders, but 43 of them can only do human avatar animation and station interiors. Curses, our government’s arcane labour laws have forced us to make some sort of second-life style expansion, which coincidentally we can use as an alpha build of our World of Darkness MMO. I had such hopes that we would randomly hire some guys who could fix faction war, make low sec less pointless, make the sovereignty system better than the previous iteration rather than worse, and allow fleet battles again”?

      That seems unlikely.

  41. JohnDoe says:

    As loads of other people have said, there’s whining about specific game features and there’s whining about how the game is proceeding as a whole.

    The Eve boards are chock full of morons complaining that their race/ship/module du jour is underpowered and needs boosting, or vice versa from those who have different races/in game equipment. This is part and parcel of any MMO where gameplay balancing can adversely affect some players for the benefit of the whole.

    What has happened in the Eve universe recently is that the fabric of the game itself is under threat. When CCP released the “Apocrypha” expansion, it was the pinnacle of the Eve universe. The Wormholes feature was well implemented and a good challenge for hi-sec players, whilst lag-improvements made 0.0 a hive of activity, with 1000-person battles reasonably playable. Huge power blocks felt they could attack each other without losing ships to random glitches.

    Then along came the “Dominion” expansion and everything changed. Dominion was supposed to alter the 0.0 sovreignty system to make it less of a “grind” and give more attack/defence options. It also allowed alliances to “upgrade” their territory, so that holding vaste swathes of space was no longer necessary. The idea was to open up 0.0 to smaller entities, rather than having just a few big power blocks controlling everything.

    Initially, responses were favourable. However, after a few weeks it became apparent that lag was much much worse. Whereas before 1000 player battles were possible, now even as little as 200 in system could cause strange behaviour. Also, it became apparent that Dominion was essentially unfinished. The management system for allowing other alliances to “rent” space from territory holders was never implemented, meaning a lot of the benefits of Dominion were irrelevant. Alliances could simply “upgrade” their space and stay put. Lastly, it soom became apparent that the Dominion sovreignty mechanics were not incremental enough. They vastly favoured the defender who, with lag as their “ally”, could effectively lock out a system and undo days of the attacker’s efforts with little work on their part.

    The result was the almost total stagnation of 0.0 warfare. There is little motivation to take space, the difficulty of executing an offensive operation and the fear of lag causing expensive ships to be lost means that few power blocks are willing to take the risk of an all-out assault on another.

    Players started flagging up the issues to CCP and stayed subscribed in the hope that the company would move to resolve the issues with Dominion in their “Tyrannis” expansion. However, instead they got Planetary Interaction, an idea that, as others have described, is little more than “Farmville in space”. It was this expansion, that almost totally ignored the fall-out from Dominion, that really started to get the players’ backs up.

    The icing on the cake was the infamous CSM meeting and its associated minutes. They proved to be the last straw for most 0.0 veterans, who saw them as confirming what they had long suspected after Tyrannis’ failure to fix broken Dominion features. That is, CCP is more interested in rolling out an endless series of broken additions rather than fixing much of what exists. Many vets have multiple accounts and have unsubscribed them all apart from their “main” character, and others will follow suit if they see no signs of CCP acting on player anger.

    CCP has relied on the adventures and exploits of 0.0 pilots to popularise Eve, with huge battles and epic backstabs even making BBC headlines. They would do well to pay attention to this publicity engine going forward. As we have seen recently, annoy your biggest fans and every Internet MMO gaming site will soon know about it.

  42. TinyPirate says:

    I don’t see how the lag problem is ever solvable. As soon as you can reliably fit 100 people in a system, one side in a fight will bring 200. As soon as the limit is up to 500, one side will bring 1000. And so on. Lag sucks, but so do enormous fleet battles that innevitably stress the servers. Game systems need to change first.

    • JohnDoe says:

      It isn’t completely solveable, it’s an arms race where as soon as the servers are capable of X numbers in system, someone will bring X+1. That’s always been the case in Eve and veterans know that lag will always be a factor in very large battles.

      However, in the Apocrypha expansion a reinforced system node could handle 1000+ and it was playable (not saying “smooth as silk” but you could actually do stuff). CCP used this fact to advertise Eve to the public, saying that huge fleet battles were part of the game. Cut to the present day and even 400-player battles struggle on reinforced nodes, with 200-player fights hitting problems in non-reinforced systems.

      It’s the massive drop in performance limits that has annoyed the playerbase, not the fact that the limits exist.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      You’re wrong, TinyPirate.
      Assembling people gets exponentially more complicated the more people you try to get together. When Apocrypha made it possible to cram 1.5k people in a system and have a fight, the most common fights were much smaller and went smooth as silk. Assembling more than two or three full fleets is already a daunting task and people struggle getting more than that together, without server performance affecting this at all.
      That’s why Dominion was so frustrating. Alliances were used to playable and incredibly smooth 150 vs. 150 fights, but nowadays the server will go belly up if local exceeds 300. Or even 150, as evidenced by an aborted fight yesterday. Even worse are the multitude of bugs that appeared with Dominion and Gms ignoring any pleas for help, even if ships were lost due to said bugs.

    • Berious says:

      @Batolemaeus

      And you might just get hundreds of people in fleet one day, but Eve is about sustained effort (OK grind) and keeping those numbers up especially if you’re losing is all but impossible.

  43. LionsPhil says:

    Company realises that releasing new features and products makes more money than fixing products people have already bought. News at 11.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      LionsPhil not realizing what a subscription Model is..

    • LionsPhil says:

      Batolemaeus not realizing that gamers are some of the softest targets in the world and that for all their vitriolic online bitching, the chances of them actually unsubscribing (or boycotting any future game) are basically nil once they’re either somewhat invested in it or if you dangle enough shiny things their way.

      No, I really don’t care for the one or two of you winding up to unleash a surge of irate fury at how you totally did cancel your subscription forever over this. You’re a rounding error.

    • Batolemaeus says:

      You’re pretty bad at evading points, you know that? You really sound way too angry to be taken seriously.

    • LionsPhil says:

      Wow, evading points by claiming the opponent is evading points and is angry! You learn to troll on 4chan? Because that’s weak even by their standards. (I suppose at least you didn’t phrase it “u mad?”.)

      Like I said, but I’ll make more explicit for the slow children: putting EVE on the backburner won’t really hurt CCP in any major way becuase gamers’ bark is far worse than their basically non-existant bite; developing new games instead has a much better chance of helping them by bringing in new custom.

    • Berious says:

      Mad fanboi is mad. I cancelled my 2 accounts after Dominion because fuck dat noise srsly. Enjoy your mindless grinding with no prospect of a worthwhile end game!

  44. Cypher says:

    Yeh, Played the game for 3 years and then got tired of CCP’s lack of caring about the game, how shitty the game had become (It looked pretty but it was just getting worse under the hood because CCP refuses to admit they messed up and need to fix things)

    I miss the old EVE that..worked. Then CCP kept trying to ‘upgrade’ and presto you now have the current EVE which sucks.

    As for the responses by that CCP Tool…he should be shot. That is the biggest load of PR Spin that I have ever seen in my life; maybe they should be a politicians.

    EVE was a great game but it has made CCP too cocky and self-righteous; the game needs to fail and then maybe CCP will remember that WE (those who played EVE) made CCP not just a joke of an Indie Developer but a serious powerhouse. In the end CCP=Idiots, EVE=Was good game but now sucks, CCP Devs= Self Absorbed Tards.

  45. Trilobyte says:

    Funny story.

    Eve actually has to books out. Granted, not about specific player corps, but books about EVE nonetheless.

    • mpk says:

      The first one is okay, in a sub-Iain Banks kind of way. Haven’t read the second but by all accounts it’s more akin to extended fan-fic.

  46. rektide says:

    CCP has released a number of new features which significantly increased lag. This trend in the past 18 months is what a lot of people find objectionable.

    Lag and game responsiveness have been at the top of a large number of players concerns, and we’re sympathetic to CCP’s difficulties wrangling an inherently non-multithreaded non-distributed generally-not-scalable stackless gameserver implementation into a state where it can handle 1000’s of players duking it out at once, but we fully expect them to be fighting the good fight on this issue. The huge loss of ground– going from at least able to support- even if not speedily- 1000’s of players, to the game outright keeling over and dying at 200 people, shows priorities misaligned and checks not in place and overall an extremely immature rogue development model, one with little disregard for the users. Lag and scaling are a big issue, but we cannot expect CCP to drop everything until they are completely fixed. But spawning feature development that has huge negative impact on lag and scaling is really unacceptable, and indicative of a company that does not play or understand their own game.

    The proof is in the pudding here– CCP has only just recently developed a mass testing facility for themselves, so they can reproduce the problems of lag– something they’ve been unwilling to invest across intervening 7 years since launching. So the company has only now bothered investing in the capability to debug and test lag, and only after multiple CSM’s have put them through the ringer over lag and scaling, and only after one of the most epicly catastrophic retrogressions in modern computing history.

  47. ezuz says:

    As a 7 year playing EVE pilot I still find it funny when I read something about the playerbase of EVE-online raging.

    The game runs unlike anything else out there, on a single shard, that brings with it unique challenges that CCP needs to find solutions for from scratch. This enormous sense of entitlement from this small minority of the EVE playerbase became tiresome 5-6 years ago.

    The playerbase in whole isn’t raging over EVE and its occasional lag in Jita and 0.0 fights. Its only the >10% of the players who have the mentality of 5 year old children who do. And when reading that dev blog, that is linked in the article, one can easily see that there are 15 developers focused squarely on fixing core issues and 4 other development teams working on fleet-fights-in-a-can, as can be read all about here.

    This new stripped down client is going to make it much easier for the core team to find out where the lag monster is hiding. This is a delicate piece of software and finding and fixing an issue like this one isn’t going to happen over night ( and if someone is going to point out that lag has always, constantly, been EVE’s problem then no, it has been a problem in the past at several times but it has always been fixed, then the game, playerbase, grew and the lag monster resurfaced. This will always happen with a game like EVE, it can’t be helped.)

    • bigredjeff says:

      i agree with some of what you have to say. but dude, we cant even have a 100v100 anymore let alone 800v800. i starting to think the lag will never go away.

  48. OldRvE Player says:

    I have played EveOnline for more then 5 years, less recently. The biggest complaint has always been about lag. CCP upgrades it equipment to help with lag, then added thigns that bring the lag back, or make the lag worse. EvEOnlone is a great game, don’t get me wrong. There is no other game out there like it. But I often wonder how many players would have stayed with the game had CCP fixed, and left fixed the whole lag thing. CCP, if you want your palyer base to grow faster, do things to stop losing players while trying to gain others with shiny new features, like FIXING THE DAMN LAG.

  49. iuzbob says:

    I quit after 5 years because of lag, lack of fixing bugs old and new and promises not kept. Two subscriptions gone. I feel not angry but a bit betrayed.